Coca-Cola facing investigation by Germany’s antitrust watchdog
Coca-Cola, the US beverage giant, has become the latest high profile company to face investigation into its business activities by Germany's antitrust watchdog.
The Federal Cartel Office (FCO) based in Bonn, said it had initiated "abuse proceedings" against Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Deutschland GmbH, which handles the company's bottling and distribution in Germany.
The Cartel Office is Germany's national competition regulatory agency and the German Competition Act, which came into force in 2021, gives it greater powers to clamp down on anti-competitive behaviour by tech giants.
The Coca-Cola investigation centres on rebates for retailers the watchdog believes could give the company an unfair advantage over competitors. The cartel office said it would look at whether Coca-Cola had a dominant position and would therefore be subject to special competition rules.
Coca-Cola said it would co-operate with the authority but dismissed the accusations as baseless. Andrea Weckwert , the company’s vice president for legal affairs , said: “We are convinced that the proven business model of Coca-Cola Europacific Partners in Germany with a balanced programme on pricing and conditions is legally compliant.”
Germany's cartel office has launched a number of high-profile cases against US companies in recent years.
Last year it classed Google parent Alphabet as a company of "paramount significance for competition across markets", allowing for closer monitoring for possible abuse of its market position. Fellow tech giants Amazon, Apple and Facebook owner Meta have also been placed under increased scrutiny.
The FCO has the power to impose fines on companies and the responsible officers- often are directors – and in 2022, it issued fines amounting to around €24 million on a total of 20 companies and seven individuals.
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